“The world is your oyster.”
For some reason people like to tell you this when you’re an impressionable youth embarking upon the journey to adulthood. I never found it to be too inspiring, especially after I graduated from college. The world is my oyster? What with the crummy economy, limited job opportunities, no serious job experience to list on my resume it seemed more like the world was my battle ground. Never fear, here’s exactly how to make the most of your career in your twenties.
Set a Goal for 30
The best way to begin building your professional life is to have a vision for where you want to be at age 30. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish by 30 – both professionally and personally.
Identifying what you want to accomplish and where you want to be by age 30 is crucial in making the most out of your twenties. Write your vision down and reference it often. This will become the ultimate driving force behind each decision you make moving forward.
Focus on Your Passion First
Don’t try to be someone you’re not. The best professions are the ones that allow you to practice your passions. Focus on careers that advance you to the next step in living what you love and loving what you do.
Knowledge is crucial but it doesn’t always get your foot in the door. Network with other professionals with every opportunity you get. To maximize each meet and greet:
- Always remain positive, smile and be thankful. This will make encounters enjoyable and leave a memorable impression.
- Perfect your first impressions. A firm handshake with eye contact speaks volumes and gives you a level of credibility from the start.
Dress to Impress
Dressing like a professional adds to the first impressions you leave with others. If you put effort into your appearance, it shows. It also tells your superiors that you care about their company’s image. Unfortunately, just out of college you often have a limited budget to work with. Luckily there is plenty of guidance online to help make the most of every dollar.
You can never have too many skills, and with each you obtain you will become a stronger and more competitive professional. There are a variety of different learning opportunities that you can pull from.
- Choose a mentor or idol you wish to model yourself after and learn more about what opportunities they pursued to learn and grow.
- Sign up for online courses for professional development.
Learning different skills will not only give you a competitive edge, but will also allow you to explore new opportunities and help you to discover your talents. Don’t be afraid to take risks and push yourself out of your comfort zone. It will set a groundwork for professional acceleration.
Work Long Hours
Although you may see graduation as a time to experience freedom, it should be the exact opposite. It’s time to place your nose to the grindstone. Your energy levels are at their peak and your responsibilities are minimal at the moment. You will greatly appreciate what working long hours now will allow you to do 10 to 20 years down the road when your priorities shift to focusing your time and energy on things other than your profession, such as building a family or perfecting your golf swing.
Travel Whenever Possible
There is no better time than now to take advantage of every chance you get to travel the world and explore. As life goes on your number of commitments and constraints will increase. While your constraints are minimal, say yes to those jet-setting opportunities.
Stop With the Excuses
Throughout our teen years it was always fun to see what we could get away with. The professional world is not the place to use excuses. Be realistic with your schedule and with what you can accomplish in a given amount of time. If you miss the mark, own up and move forward. Excuses break your credibility and decrease the respect you receive as a professional.
Don’t Always Be Right
Nobody said you always have to be right. Admitting imperfection and acknowledging room for growth shows your supervisors that you can be trusted as a straightforward, honest individual. If you find that you are wrong:
- Admit the fault is your own and no one else’s. Don’t blame others.
- Clearly identify what you did wrong and what you will do next time to make it right.
Understand Everyone Is Replaceable
The worst thing you can do is believe your company needs you and that you are irreplaceable. The fact is, every professional is replaceable. So work hard every day and know there is always room for improvement.
Following these 10 guiding principles will help you to know exactly what your professional strengths are and exactly how to use your talents to take every dream to the next level by the time 30 rolls around. After all, the world is your oyster. Become the master of your own destiny and turn this life into anything you want it to be. The pearls are within your reach and the journey starts today.